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'True Love' - singing techniques

GUEST,leeneia 24 Nov 12 - 11:25 AM
GUEST,Grishka 24 Nov 12 - 12:59 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 24 Nov 12 - 01:19 PM
GUEST,leeneia 24 Nov 12 - 03:26 PM
GUEST,Grishka 24 Nov 12 - 04:37 PM
GUEST,Stim 24 Nov 12 - 05:37 PM
GUEST,Grishka 24 Nov 12 - 06:50 PM
GUEST,leeneia 24 Nov 12 - 07:05 PM
Howard Jones 25 Nov 12 - 04:41 AM
GUEST,Grishka 25 Nov 12 - 07:53 AM
Don Firth 25 Nov 12 - 02:49 PM
Steve Gardham 25 Nov 12 - 03:29 PM
GUEST,Grishka 25 Nov 12 - 03:39 PM
GUEST,Stim 25 Nov 12 - 05:43 PM
RobbieWilson 25 Nov 12 - 09:26 PM
GUEST,Stim 25 Nov 12 - 11:00 PM
GUEST,leeneia 25 Nov 12 - 11:08 PM
John on the Sunset Coast 25 Nov 12 - 11:23 PM
GUEST,Stim 26 Nov 12 - 12:28 AM
GUEST,highlandman at work 26 Nov 12 - 10:26 AM
Bert 26 Nov 12 - 01:51 PM
GUEST,leeneia 26 Nov 12 - 11:47 PM
GUEST,leeneia 27 Nov 12 - 11:40 AM
GUEST,Stim 27 Nov 12 - 01:02 PM
GUEST,leeneia 27 Nov 12 - 10:19 PM
GUEST 27 Nov 12 - 10:55 PM
Joe Offer 28 Nov 12 - 03:43 AM
GUEST,leeneia 28 Nov 12 - 01:01 PM
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Subject: 'True Love' - singing techniques
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 24 Nov 12 - 11:25 AM

Two days ago I celebrated Thanksgiving with only my husband. We ate a nice dinner of turkey mole, then we watched the 1956 movie "High Society" on DVD. We both found it kind of boring, actually, but we enjoyed the music.

There's a scene in the movie where Dexter(Bing Crosby) and Tracey (Grace Kelly) are honeymooning on his yacht, the True Love. Dexter gets out his concertina, and they cuddle up and sing the song "True Love" by Cole Porter.

To the amazement of them all, the little song "True Love" was a great hit and sold over a million copies.

Well, no wonder! The way Bing Crosby sang it was so polished and romantic. When he sang the first 'to' he sang it in a special way, like an opera singer, and my heart melted. For a guy to trust a girl so much that he will sing 'to' like an opera singer, he must really love her.

How does an opera singer sing "To"? Puts an H sound after the T. I don't mean a TH like in "thin" or "this." I mean a T and then an H, as in boathook. It's subtle, but it's there.

To listen to it, you can go on YouTube and search for:

Bing Crosby true love

then choose from the various versions available.

I love singing, and I decided to listen to Bing and note everything special he did when recording "True Love." (It's true that Grace Kelly sang along for a bit, but she wisely duplicated his techniques.)

Suntanned, windblown,
honeymooners at least alone
feeling far above time (?)
Oh (swoopy, raspy)
how lucky we are...

While I give TO (opera singer's TO) you
and you give TO (ditto) me
true love, true love.
so on AN' on


IT'LL ("it'll is sung faster than you'd think)
always be true love, true love.
FOR (r is trilled) you
AND (Swoops) I have a guardian angel
on high with NOTHIN' to do
but TO (opera singer's "to") give to me
and to give to you
Love for ever true.
Love for ever TRUE (little warble)

I believe there are lessons in there for us all.


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Subject: RE: 'True Love' - singing techniques
From: GUEST,Grishka
Date: 24 Nov 12 - 12:59 PM

Hollywood in its earstwhile glory. The only item that might be inspired by classical singing teachers is the trilled r. They would not tolerate an aspirated "t", even in languages (like German) where it is normally spoken.

Lesson: if you look like Grace or Bing, and have a routined movie team behind you, you are allowed to sing as they do. A memorable scene in spite of questionable singing and acting.

If the scene were "remade" nowadays, we would see a properly operated concertina and perfect lip synchronization. But it would probably not be the same kind of magic. They don't film them like that anymore.


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Subject: RE: 'True Love' - singing techniques
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 24 Nov 12 - 01:19 PM

Bing was tops at the time. Singing like Crosby, Sinatra and others of those days has disappeared. Instead we have rap crap.

I once heard one of the great opera singers sing True Love. He was good too; Ill have to check youtube.


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Subject: RE: 'True Love' - singing techniques
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 24 Nov 12 - 03:26 PM

Thanks, Q.

There are two other points about the singing in that scene. That is that the singing sounds American, but two aspects, the uh sound in 'love' and the r in 'true' are handled with finesse. We don't hear the affected 'lahve' which some choir directors want, but it's not 'luv' with a dull thud, either.

They don't grind the r in 'true', but they aren't ashamed of it either.

Bing Crosby (and/or the music staff at MGM) must have thought about how he would handle every word of that song. That kind of care and thought impresses me.   

When I was kid, I heard this on the radio and thought it was a short, easy song. Today I've been trying to make a MIDI of it, and it is not an easy song. In particular, that little introduction. Talk about homage to Tin Pan Alley! It may be using every black note there is. (haven't got it all figured out yet.) They told Cole Porter they wanted an old-fashioned song, and his idea of old-fashioned must have been 1900-1910.


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Subject: RE: 'True Love' - singing techniques
From: GUEST,Grishka
Date: 24 Nov 12 - 04:37 PM

That is the point, leeneia: Hollywood knew how to create the emotions they wanted, and took professional care of every detail that mattered to them. The warbles were certainly carefully calculated, whereas realistic handling of the instrument was considered irrelevant.

Crosby had a sonorous voice (for a "crooner"), but in terms of technique and musicianship he was miles away from Sinatra, let alone from the genuine Jazz vocalists such as Ella Fitzgerald. (By the way, Marilyn Monroe made quite a remarkable "figure" as well. Louis Armstrong, co-starring in "High Society", is a case of his own, beyond all critique.)

Hollywood was - and is - also ingenious in making its actors shine in disciplines where they were less than amateurs. Grace Kelly can produce her extremely small voice range as if she were an alto singer capable of understanding a modulating tune. On other occasions, Judy Garland danced side-by-side with Fred Astaire, and later Marlon Brando had a scene with professional dancers. Later still, Richard Gere mimicked a tap dancer without being doubled, and Johnny Depp sang "Sweeney Todd".

Yes, ingenious. However, opera, musical theatre, and related performances are a different form of art, which takes singers who can act.


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Subject: RE: 'True Love' - singing techniques
From: GUEST,Stim
Date: 24 Nov 12 - 05:37 PM

Bing was a favorite of Sinatra's, making him, apparently, less discerning in his taste than you,Grishka.


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Subject: RE: 'True Love' - singing techniques
From: GUEST,Grishka
Date: 24 Nov 12 - 06:50 PM

Stim, this thread is about "singing techniques", classical etc., and lessons to be learned by present-day singers. What I wrote I wrote from that point of view. Bing Crosby was Bing Crosby, no way to scratch his monument, even if I wanted to.

Real showbiz professionals, especially in the USA, are supposed to praise each other publicly, whatever their real opinion, or their personal relationship. Furthermore, colleagues are not always the best jurors. Besides, Sinatra's technique also has features which are fine for him, but not recommended for imitation nowadays.

The USA are currently blessed (or cursed) with a large number of schools for aspiring musical stars (see the movie "Fame"). I am not sure whether Bing Crosby whould be admitted there as a student, let alone teacher. On the other hand, hardly any of the successful graduates will ever reach Crosby's charisma. Times have changed.

Taste and judgment about technique are two pairs of shoes.


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Subject: RE: 'True Love' - singing techniques
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 24 Nov 12 - 07:05 PM

I'm trying to discuss two things:

1. What was it that made my heart melt with the pure romance of that song?

2. What was it about that little song that made it sell over a million copies, to the surprise even of those who produced it?

Consider the contrast with something that was in the entertainment section of the Kansas City Star last week. The cover showed a young woman, her features bleached stark white, her eyes dark, her lips blood red and a trickle of blood running from the corner of her mouth.

That's entertainment? That's what our society sees as a source of pleasure? We like to see young and pretty females injured and looking stunned? No wonder today's kids bury themselves in electronic social life.

If your sons and grandsons say they don't know how to talk to girls, tell them to watch that scene on the boat True Love.


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Subject: RE: 'True Love' - singing techniques
From: Howard Jones
Date: 25 Nov 12 - 04:41 AM

I don't what made the song such a hit. However I do know that when I was a very small child this was my very favourite song. I was too young to properly understand the sentiments, or even most of the language, but something about it made it stand apart from all the other songs that I heard played on the radio


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Subject: RE: 'True Love' - singing techniques
From: GUEST,Grishka
Date: 25 Nov 12 - 07:53 AM

The song is well-written, conforming to its title and to Hollywood conventions. The composer makes skillful use of the so-called "Schubert mediant modulation", a device then shunned by other composers due to its overuse in sentimental music. A chunk of marzipan, allowed from time to time, but not to be mistaken for food.

In real life, true love was and is much more complex. Her Grace's somewhat sad fate may serve as a warning. Art can tell us a lot more about how to deal with strong emotions and wishes.

How to talk to girls? Bing was 54, handsome, rich, and famous, backed by a routined dream factory - no help for your grandson. Yet, you do have a point: talking about one's emotions in a convincing and dignifyed manner can be trained, preferably starting at early childhood. "Here's looking at you", to quote another Hollywood cliché, is the first lesson. Serious and successful artistic efforts definitely help, whereas intentional warbling, crooning, sobbing etc. rarely create true love.

(I just listened to "Now You Has Jazz" from the same film on YouTube, and reconfirmed my earlier impression that neither the makers nor Crosby had a real idea of what they were talking about. Armstrong and Sinatra knew better, but had to please the crowd resp. the producer. Generally I have the feeling that most feature films about musicians are made by shameless and contemptous ignorants.)


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Subject: RE: 'True Love' - singing techniques
From: Don Firth
Date: 25 Nov 12 - 02:49 PM

Crosby was a very tasteful singer.

It is not so much the way he pronounces the words he sings. Crisp and clear, and this is important. But what he does do is so obvious that it's all too often overlooked by many singers. Crosby took the time and effort, not just to learn the words to a song, but to understand the words he was singing and feel them as he sang them. All too many singers "know" the words of a song, in the sense that they have memorized them, but tend to sing them by rote, machinelike, unconsciously, just going through the motions.

I've had a fair amount of voice training over the years, all of which was helpful, but I think one of the most valuable things I learned was from George Hotchkiss Street. He would have me bring my guitar to the lessons, and after we'd gone through the technical part of the lesson, exercises and such, he would have me sing whatever song I happened to be working on at the time. He would often stop me in mid-verse and say, "What, exactly, does that line mean?"

Now, he knew perfectly well what it meant. But he wanted to make certain that I knew—and was not just singing it by rote. That little drill got me paying real attention to the meaning of a song.

Thank you, Mr. Street!

Crosby knew what he was singing about, and that makes all the difference in the world.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: 'True Love' - singing techniques
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 25 Nov 12 - 03:29 PM

Warning--thread drift!

If I remember the scene correctly Bing was playing a cheap colourful anglo in and out like you'd play an English or duet and the music that was coming out was an accordeon. Ah, those were the days when reality didn't matter at all!


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Subject: RE: 'True Love' - singing techniques
From: GUEST,Grishka
Date: 25 Nov 12 - 03:39 PM

Don, I was only referring to Jazz. Although BC actually started his career as a singer for so-called (i.e. self-styled) Jazz bands -- well, just listen yourself.

In his own genre, Crosby filled the role well. According to Wiki, he even invented the typical devices that were later copied by other "crooners". I also agree with you and leeneia that a well-calculated deviation from the written dots can add greatly to the message. "Tasteful" is a matter of taste; "in style" would be my words.

And yes, singers of folk songs, pop ballads, chansons etc. can learn from him, provided they know their own style. Jazz and classical singing obey stricter rules, but within these, the best singers can convey a lot of emotions to fit the lyrics. Many others sound machinelike.

I asked an expert on true love whether she would melt away for Crosby, and she denied. Leeneia, he's yours ;-)


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Subject: RE: 'True Love' - singing techniques
From: GUEST,Stim
Date: 25 Nov 12 - 05:43 PM

Crosby, though it seems an odd idea now, was a revolutionary singer.

First, he realized that he was singing to a microphone, so he shaped his technique around the strengths and limitations of the microphone(he also introduced the tape recorders to broadcasting and pioneered in editing as we do it today), Second, and even more important, he developed a conversational/confidential singing style--instead of singing as if he was performing for a theatre full of people, he sang as if he was singing to just one person--which changed everything, forever after....


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Subject: RE: 'True Love' - singing techniques
From: RobbieWilson
Date: 25 Nov 12 - 09:26 PM

And there was me thought it was Al Bowlly who started all that crooning to a microphone stuff, just goes to show.


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Subject: RE: 'True Love' - singing techniques
From: GUEST,Stim
Date: 25 Nov 12 - 11:00 PM

Crosby was recording with Paul Whiteman well before Al Bowlly began working with Roy Noble, if you want to go that way(which I don't).

To me, Bowlly was always a band singer(in the best sense), and Crosby left that(and a lot of his jazz leanings) behind to develop the matinee style we know so well. I love Al Bowlly, though, and listen to him rather more than Crosby...just so you know...


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Subject: RE: 'True Love' - singing techniques
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 25 Nov 12 - 11:08 PM

Thanks for the interesting thoughts, Don and Stim. I believe Crosby's way of singing as if to one person is part of the romantic appeal of 'True Love.'

Don, I know what you mean by "Many others sound machinelike."

Just now I was forced to listen to Mel Torme singing 'The Christmas Song.' You know it, I'm sure. It starts with "Chestnuts Roasting by an Open Fire..."

I believe he could have changed the words to express condolences at a funeral, and his delivery would have would have sounded perfectly acceptable. It is that lifeless. Then I heard another singer, a woman, singing it again, and she imitated Mel Torme's delivery exactly. Sort of like a living tape recorder.

Recently I had reason to check out the videos of a local singer on YouTube. I'll call her Nellie. I heard Nellie sing a song called "I'm Blue Every Day" and another called "I'm so Happy." The two songs were basically indistinguishable. Machinelike, as you say.


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Subject: RE: 'True Love' - singing techniques
From: John on the Sunset Coast
Date: 25 Nov 12 - 11:23 PM

Although he had a down period, NOBODY sang a lyric like Sinatra, especially during his Reprise years. Tony Bennett, though, is a close second.

My favorite song from High Society is the Crosby/Sinatra duet. 'Did You Evah?' C to S- "Oh, you must be one of the newer fellas!"


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Subject: RE: 'True Love' - singing techniques
From: GUEST,Stim
Date: 26 Nov 12 - 12:28 AM

Yes, John! One of the greatest movie musical numbers, "Evah"! And you are right about Frank. He had it all, the phrasing, the feeling, and the voice.


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Subject: RE: 'True Love' - singing techniques
From: GUEST,highlandman at work
Date: 26 Nov 12 - 10:26 AM

Just a couple of days ago I heard a recent(?) episode of Piano Jazz with Tony Bennet. I was amazed at the quality of his singing, even with his 'elderly' voice and in that informal setting. Many of what you might call 'lounge singer' affectations, that usually irritate me to no end, were present in his delivery -- but the old boy made them work! Serving the song, most certainly.
He is a master of his craft for sure; although his style may not suit everyone you have to give him some serious respect. I would say the same for Bing as well.
-Glenn


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Subject: RE: 'True Love' - singing techniques
From: Bert
Date: 26 Nov 12 - 01:51 PM

Aw now Leenia, 'luv' is not a dull thud. Luv is a light, happy generous sound that shows love for all mankind and not just a mushy one person love.

When you hear 'Allo luv!, you know that the love is real even if not true.


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Subject: RE: 'True Love' - singing techniques
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 26 Nov 12 - 11:47 PM

'Tis true.


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Subject: RE: 'True Love' - singing techniques
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 27 Nov 12 - 11:40 AM

I've been at the piano this morning, working out chords for this song, including the introduction. You know, many introductions for old songs get dropped as the years go by, but I like to play them. I think they add interest and history. Also, in the case of 'True Love,' the song's too short without it.

I always thought this was a simple little song. Shows how much little I knew! These are the notes (not the chords, mind) in this song with its introduction:

C
D, Db
E, Eb
F, F#
G
A, Ab
B, Bb

If you'd like to get the sticks & dots for it, you can get them for free at the Wikifonia lead sheets site. If you're luckier than I, you might get it to print.
========
I loved the song "Did you Evah?" myself. I think it's one of the high points in the movie.


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Subject: RE: 'True Love' - singing techniques
From: GUEST,Stim
Date: 27 Nov 12 - 01:02 PM

I stumbled on to "True Love" in a songbook a while ago and, like you, was pretty surprised at how sophisticated the chords were. Another song that people think is a simple bit of fluff is "My Favorite Things".

Anyway, I like introductions too. Apparently, radio was responsible for the elimination of introductions, because early live programs were short- often only five and ten minutes, and by eliminating the introductions, they could fit more songs in.


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Subject: RE: 'True Love' - singing techniques
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 27 Nov 12 - 10:19 PM

Both those things are interesting, Stim. I too had assumed that "My Favorite Things" is a simple song in a minor key.

I can see how radio would play a role in truncating songs. Probably they started the trend, and our tendency to remember the most melodious part took over from there.

For those who weren't aware of this kind of thing:

"When Irish Eyes are Smiling" begins with "There's a tear in your eye, and I'm wondering why..."

"Bicycle Built for Two" begins with "There is a flower within my heart, Daisy, Daisy..."

"Moonlight Bay" begins with something like "Banjos ring, winging over Moonlight Bay."

Tthere's a more modern song which uses this old-fashioned framework, and it's "I Left My Heart in San Francisco."


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Subject: RE: 'True Love' - singing techniques
From: GUEST
Date: 27 Nov 12 - 10:55 PM

The most famous intro of all, most likely, is "And now the purple dusk of twilight time..." and the melody is so beautiful that Ol' Blue Eyes recorded it by itself--Frank Sinatra's Stardust


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Subject: RE: 'True Love' - singing techniques
From: Joe Offer
Date: 28 Nov 12 - 03:43 AM

I married my True Love almost eleven years ago. We had a potluck wedding reception, and various people got up on stage and sang or played something. The men's section of the St. John Vianney Parish Choir sang "True Love," and I took my bride out on the floor and waltzed with her to the wonderful sound of the church choir. Then they sang "Can't Help Falling in Love with You," another wonderful waltz.

Just thought I'd tell you about my emotional attachment to this song. I remember when I first heard the song - my grandmother took me to see Song of the South at a theater on Fenkell at Schoolcraft in Detroit, and High Society was playing with it. I developed a seven-year-old's crush on Grace Kelly in the process.

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: 'True Love' - singing techniques
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 28 Nov 12 - 01:01 PM

Thanks for the charming memories, Joe.

Guest, I'll have to check out Stardust. Thanks


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